Summer of 50

This summer has been a great one, one that I think we both will remember for a long time.  Just realized the other day we are approaching having seen 50 bands this year. Kinda crazy to think about that but hell of a blast.

J’aime Montreal. Beaucoup.

This weekend we crossed the Canadian border for the first time! Which by the way, is rather much easier than I thought. It took a whole of 2 seconds–we showed border patrol our passports, they asked us about 3 questions (where are you coming from, how long are you staying, are you bringing in any firearms or controlled substances?), and then we were pushed on through. Whoopee!

We stayed in Montreal for a night to go to the 2007 Osheaga Music Festival at a national park there. The hotel we stayed at was very decently priced (Hotel St. Denis), and actually a close walk to the Metro Station, which we found out the festival was only one metro stop away from!

Montreal was pretty sweet. Nearly everyone is bi-lingual, French is commonly the first language used but most people can easily switch to English. I tried to use my minimal French as much as possible. Nearly everyone was very friendly and helpful, which was a relief to see. We stayed in the Latin Quarter which is part of Vieux Montreal (“Old Montreal”). It was a very artistic quarter with a few concert venues, a univeristy and some great street cafes. Being there definitely brought back memories of France, there is certainly a European vibe. (Sans any snootiness).

The Osheaga festival was absolutely amazing. The park itself lays aside a canal and has beautiful open spaces. There are several works of outside art which are monuments there, such as Buckminster Fuller’s giant Geodesic Dome. For the festival, several artists made cute little cutouts of woodland characters to stick all around the woods nearby.

There were 4 stages of music for this weekend long event (we only went for a day), plus a large indoor tent in which local artists showed videos and displayed paintings and photographs. 2 artists worked on a mural throughout the festival which was to be completed when the festival finished. There was a “maze” of art and several booths in which local crafters sold their wares.

We lucked out in the food department as there was a vegetarian/vegan stand! Other stands sold more than just your standard veggie burgers, including an African food stand which looked and smelled oh-so tempting. (We didn’t end up eating there but judging by the LONG lines, it was popular). They served beer and wine there and suprisingly, though there was no alcohol limit, out of the thousands (and we mean THOUSANDS!) of people at the festival, no one was rip-roaring drunk or obnoxious. However, the stench of weed was everywhere, and it seemed like security looked the other way. That’s Canada for ya!

There were a lot of very cool, very nice people are age, I’d say a real “indie” crowd was there. By the end of the night, there was an enormous bunch of people! Everyone seemed to be having fun and for the amount of people there, there was little hint of any bad goings-on. We wonder if the festival represented what most of Canada is like- relaxed and friendly, and focusing on more important things than caring about people smoking pot (like recycling (which there was a whole “recycling team” at Osheaga which picked up everything), and Fair Trade (there was a big fair trade booth there). It was a welcome sight to be part of such a laissez-faire atmosphere…

The music was outstanding! There was not a single band who disappointed, everyone put on a GREAT live show. It would take forever to post about everyone , but I’ll just list who we saw playing there (we only saw 2 out of the 4 stages as some bands where playing at the same time on the other side of the park). Apostle of Hustle, Rahzel (considered the “Godfather of beatboxing”), Jamie T (who sounded like the Streets mixed with the Clash), Editors (who definitely had a cool Interpol vibe), Xavier Cafeine (a Montreal born punk singer who was crazy!), Blonde Redhead (whom we love love love!), Patrick Watson (he had a unique sound all of his own), Stars (another Montreal-based band who had great stage presence and were friends of Feist), Feist herself (she rules!!!), Dumas (who is very popular in Canada; we were laughing at this because one of our good friends, Andy Dumas, always goes by “Dumas”), Damien Rice (we saw him before and were concerned about him performing solo w/out Lisa Hannigan, but he blew us away! The most surprising hit of the fest!), and….the headliners….Smashing Pumpkins!

Blonde Redhead were great, the lead singer wore a funky dress and danced around like a hippy in an LSD forest (it was quite cute, actually.). Where she sat to play the keyboard was made to look like a giant black horse.

Feist was amazing as usual but, since she hails from Canada, she had an extra special connection with the crowd!

Damien Rice was a total knockout, rocking out guitar solos like a bad mutha! You’d forget he was known for mostly “folk ballad” type music…

Pumpkins were great! It was exciting to see them live after being fans since Siamese Dream! We tried to stay awake as they were the last show of the day and we had been standing in the hot sun since 1pm (it was going until 11). But we stayed awake and it was worth it. They played a handful of older songs like “Tonight”, and “Bullet w/ Butterfly wings”, but most of their material was from their newest album, Zeitgeist. All the same it was pretty darn good.

There was so much dirt in the open fields that when we got to our hotel our shoes looked like we had been in a mine–there was an inch thick of dust covering them. When I washed my face the white face towel was nearly black-ugh! But we slept VERY well after that busy day.

The next morning after we checked out, we were so pleased to find a little bakery that specialized in delicacies from Lyon. We had a nice little breakfast of croissants au beurre, baguette toast and frothy coffee that brought back sweet memories.

It was time to say “Au Revoir” to Canada after that, but we’ve officially fallen in love with the place and feel very lucky to have been able to have such a fine visit. We hope we’ll visit again sometime soon!

Addendum 9/11/07–I forgot to add a couple of interesting tidbits from our trip:

1. The Cafe in Lyon was called “La Brioche Lyonnais”

2. Chris did a good job speaking a little bit of French

3. There was a band called Thunderheist that we caught the tail end of their performance. We were totally intrigued then, and now after checking them on myspace, we love them! (Thunderheist, come perform your booty-shakin beats in the U.S. Soon!)

4. At the festival we spotted some unusual dressers, including a guy who wore and Indian headdress and whose friend dressed up as a cow. (We now have strong suspicious as to where all that weed came from….)

5. The most unusual perfomance by far must’ve been a duo called Hank Pine and Lily Fawn. Lily Fawn wears fawn ears, tap dances, sings vaudeville ditties and plays the saw. Hank Pine is dressed like a chemical warmonger mixed with the hamburglar, plays electric guitar, screams like a banshee, and carries around a garbage bag which he claims to be his dead girlfriend.

A Movie to see more than Once

We went to see the movie Once which we had seen a preview for when we where in Florida. Let me just say this movie gets a total of 5 out of 5 broomsticks. It is for sure going to be placed on our list of movies we will be seeing again every so many months.

As for the movie, it is about an Irish street musician who ends up meeting a czech immigrant flower seller. It is filmed in the style of Italian for Beginners which lends itself to a much more realistic look. The two main characters play their role wonderfully to the point one does wonder if it about them. Music plays a central role in the film but feels like it belongs as suppose to an after thought. I can’t say too much since it would give it away but the entire movie is moving, which is rare nowadays.

Go see it soon !!!!

Mickey, Miney, Mocha

Chris and I were lucky enough to sneak away this Labor Day weekend to our favorite easy, sunny getaway vacation-Walt Disney World. Yes, I know to some it may be the mecca of conglomerate evil, but it has a special place in our hearts because it was where Chris asked me to marry him. I know, I’m cheesy, but what can I say. It’s also a place where we can be kids again.

We had a relatively smooth flight (this time we went with Delta because it was cheaper) and got into Florida in less than 3 hours straight. Our flight was hilarious because a big family was going to Disney for their first time and it appeared to be their first flight ever. When we took off, all the kids squealed like they were on a roller coaster ride, a couple of adults cried “Dayyyyummmm!” and an older woman (grandma?) cried “Lord Jeeee-ssuss!!!”. We couldn’t help laughing.

It was DAMN hot every day when we got there, with heat indexes of 100 most days and a lot of humidity. Nevertheless we walked everywhere (we stayed in the shade and stayed hydrated and sun-blocked); we had to earn our ice cream calories somehow.
Nutritious food prospects in the Orlando region are less than favorable for vegetarians, and unfortunately becoming increasingly more so. It’s as if Florida isn’t trying to avoid becoming an obese state, they are trying to vie for this national title! Every where you went, there were all you can eat buffets at The Sizzler, IHOP and Steak n’Shake, and Krispy Kremes and KFCs up the Wazoo. We lucked out that the resorts and parks usually at least served a veggie burger, and in Orlando proper we at least could eat Indian food. We ate at a great Indian restaurant called Dakshin, and we also lucked out veggie-wise at their Mexican chain called Chevy’s. At the airports, we could only find greasy veggie burgers at Burger King. But hey, beggars can’t be choosers, and we definitely felt more like “beggars” this time. Although, we at least had ice cream. So we weren’t too upset.
We stayed at one of the “value” resorts at Disney, Pop Century. A stay there is relatively quite cheap, however you have to keep in mind that you kind of get what you pay for. Meaning that bus services to all aspects of Disney from the resort were very slow and often crammed with as many people as possible. Eating at the resort cafeteria left you feeling like herded cattle. It is crowded and noisy but it’s a place to sleep. We made the unfortunate discovery on our first night that we were placed in what is called an “adjoining room”, meaning there is a doorway from one room to the other. If you don’t rent both the door is kept locked, however you can easily hear your neighbors. We lucked out by being next to the LOUDEST, most obnoxious family ever. The parents screamed at their kids all night long and the kids whined and yelled back. It was a regular red-neck riot. We didn’t sleep a wink. Luckily the next day the resort kindly switched us to another, non-adjoining room without a problem. Phew….

On our first full day at Disney, we headed over to one of the waterparks (Tyhpoon Lagoon). It was nice just to sit in the lazy river all day on one of the hottest days there. We didn’t even get sunburned! That night we went to the movies and saw “Stardust”. It was a very underrated, cute fairy tale film! (And not cute as in cutesy…guys can handle this one too).

Our second full day we spent at our favorite little private beach at the Fort Wilderness resort, Clementine Beach. We sat under a shady tree in the sand and read…until it started pouring rain! Luckily we hopped a ferry back to catch our bus just in time…

Our third day we headed over to Animal Kingdom. Animal Kingdom houses an actual wildlife refuge and focuses on teaching conservation. There are four “countries” with hiking trails along each displaying animals in their most realistically-mimicked habitats. Several endangered species seek refuge here. We got to see some pretty amazing animals up close, including Black Rhinos, apes and bengal tigers. The apes were hilarious, just chilling lazily in the sun, so human-like. The tigers hung out in a wading pool in the shade to keep cool. We also saw hippos, meerkats, okapi and an antelope-like creature called a scimitar-horned ork. It was pretty damn awesome to be there.
Later on in the day we hopped over to the Magic Kindgom to ride a small handful of rides. Unfortunately, our absolute favorite the Haunted Mansion was closed for refurbishment (what…isn’t it supposed to LOOK like a shambles???). We did get to ride on The Pirates of the Carribean, and Buzz Lightyear (Chris was happy to beat my score at defeating the evil robots and Zurg!). We also went on a new Monster’s Inc themed ride (The Laugh Room) and visited one of Walt’s oldest inductions to Disney World, the Carousel of Progress.
Our feet were sore but we had a great day.

Day four was our last full day (boo hoo!). We took “sad” pictures, had Ghirardelli’s iced mocha took a long walk to get Indian food and then forgot that it was closed on a Monday (at least we got exercise), and bought some small souvenirs (we always buy a Disney ornament when we go).
All in all we were lucky to get away for a nice time at a memorable place.

I must also add that sometimes a trip to Florida can make you realize just how DUMB some people are. I know we all do stupid things (hello, Queen of doing dumb things talking right here), but some things just take the cake. I hate to say it, but Florida is mostly a “red” state, and I think it goes without saying…well, here are some examples.

There is not one, not two but SEVERAL evangelical channels out of a small handful of channels available to watch at the Disney resort. These are not the calm, introspective religious monologues..oh no…these are “fire and brimstone”, show us your money and we’ll heal ya bible banging programs! One program claimed that only buy buying their special brand of blessed holy water can you be saved…another that you could be saved by buying their special album of healing music. The so called “witnesses” of good deeds on the program were so fake and appeared to be salivating for their promised “crack-if- you-do- this- evangelism- commercial” fix.

Speaking of evangelism, apparently one church in Florida thought that they could speak to volumes of people by sky-writing. Instead of spending those precious hundreds of dollars on feeding the poor or helping the hopeless and reaching more people that way, they decided to waste it on a few seconds of “air-time”, in which a pilot sloppily wrote “Trust Jesus” in the sky over Downtown Disney. He did such a terrible job and the weather was so foggy that in a few seconds the letters started to dissipate, so that to an onlooker the disappearing letters merely spelled out “RUST JESUS” in the sky….

We witnessed a group of people trying to cross the street when the “walk” signal was obviously blaring. The mother told the children not to cross (even though it was perfectly fine to!) because she saw a sign that read “no turn on red” by the crosswalk. (Lady. That…was for TRAFFIC!!!!! DUH!!!!).

Oy vey…we could go on and on. We witnessed people complaining about the most ridiculous things. There wasn’t enough cheese sauce on their whoppers (Sir, you already look like the Michelin Man; I think you could do without the cheese sauce and lose a few tires!). The bus didn’t come fast enough and they had to stand for 5 minutes, people didn’t bow down to their bratty children’s every request. . It made us want to scream “PEOPLE! You are on VACATION!!! Chilll OUT!!!”. Ugh…oh wait a minute, this was supposed to be post about what a NICE, RELAXING vacation our Florida trip was….sorry, I got sidetracked on an angry tangent there.

(sheepishly backs away…)

Pics to come soon!